In 2017 a coalition of industry and charity representatives published the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy report, which outlined how to maintain and build on the strengths of the UK’s life sciences industries, plus gave suggestions for improvement of areas that have slowed down growth. A prior MAP news report is available regarding the report, and another for the House of Lords debate discussing the report, which took place on 23 October 2018.
On the 5th December 2018 the second Life Sciences Sector Deal was published. The key aims reported are establishing the Health Advanced Research Programme, strengthening the UK environment for clinical research, raising the intensity of R&D in the UK, making the UK a global hub for advanced therapies manufacturing, supporting growth of life sciences manufacturing, improving the UK environment for businesses to scale up, supporting NHS innovation and collaboration and creation of innovative regulation for life sciences businesses.
Some of the promises made in the publication to achieve these aims include increasing the public and private research and development spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, providing additional funding support of £1.6bn to strengthen science and innovation in the UK and aiming to triple industry contract and collaborative research and development spending in the NHS to over £900m. Specific funding areas for this include £79m for ‘accelerating detection of disease’ from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, an additional £50m for the digital pathology programme and £37.5m for a network of regional Digital Innovation Hubs.
Further terms include committing to sequence at least one million genomes within five years through the NHS, improvements to the speed and efficiency of clinical trials, an expansion of the NHS Blood and Transplant infrastructure for the introduction of cell and gene therapies, and enhancing the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) and giving it more flexibility over the number of products it can support to improve patient access to innovations.
The Government is also renewing the offer of Life Sciences Opportunity Zone status to help areas raise their profile at an international level.
Along with the Government’s commitments, the publication also covers the actions of the life sciences sector, which includes a £1bn investment by UCB for a research and development hub in the UK and over £200m of further investments from other companies.
Commenting on the new sector deal, Sir John Bell, the leader of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy report, stated:
“This Sector Deal is another major step forward for the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy in the UK. It has been hugely enabled by government and will initiate new projects that will be a magnet for further investment.
Together, industry, charities, government and the NHS can tackle some of the major challenges to healthcare systems, including ageing and early diagnostics and, in doing so, can grow the economy and demonstrate what a modern Industrial Strategy looks like in action.”